These easy healthy berry streusel bars combine two layers of almond oat streusel and one thick layer of berry filling. They’re made with wholesome ingredients like oats, almond butter, applesauce, berries, and maple syrup. By skipping the butter, egg, and other dairy ingredients, these dessert bars are vegan. If using certified gluten free oats, they’re gluten free as well! Use your favorite berries like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
I’ve had this recipe published on my website for years. I recently made 2 slight adjustments: the bars are now vegan and by pulsing the oats into a finer cut, they hold their shape MUCH better. They’re flavored with almond, cinnamon, maple syrup, and have plenty of berries in each bite.
Here Why You’ll Love Them
- Two layers of cinnamon almond oat streusel
- Thick and juicy berry filling
- Only a handful of easy healthy ingredients
- Naturally vegan, but you can use an egg if needed
- No butter, white flour, or refined sugar
- Gluten free if using certified GF oats
Plus, they freeze easily AND they’re adult and toddler approved. They remind me of these breakfast cookies, which are equally easy and healthful. (Another favorite!)
Two Parts to Healthy Berry Streusel Bars
- Berry Filling: This is a thick and juicy berry filling– it’s essentially a super chunky homemade jam. You need mixed berries, cornstarch, water, pure maple syrup, and 1 Tablespoon of coconut sugar. If you don’t have coconut sugar, you can sub in white granulated or brown sugar. You need a dry sugar to help soak up some moisture. The cornstarch and water mixture thickens the filling while the pure maple syrup is an unrefined sweetener.
- Crust & Streusel: What I find most convenient (and I know you will too) is that the crust and streusel are made from the same mixture. Use most of it for the crust, then sprinkle the rest on top of the berry filling before baking. For this mixture you need: oats, cinnamon, almond butter, pure maple syrup, applesauce, and coconut oil. So the bars remain compact and hold their shape, pulse the oats in a food processor or blender first. I know what you’re thinking: can’t I just use oat flour? Unfortunately, no– it’s too fine! You can use quick oats, though.
Overview & Photos: How to Make Healthy Berry Streusel Bars
Make the berry filling on the stove. It only takes a few minutes. It needs to cool completely before using, so you can make it ahead of time.
Now let’s make the crust/streusel mixture. Pulsing the oats breaks them up, which helps guarantee the bars will hold their shape. (Very necessary with a juicy filling.) I actually started doing this with my peanut butter trail mix bars and it made all the difference– tight, compact bars!
Mix in the rest of the crust/streusel ingredients:
Press most of it into a lined 9-inch baking pan. Spread cooled berry filling on top. Add some sliced almonds to the rest of the crust/streusel, then sprinkle on top.
Tip: For neat squares, it’s best to let these bars cool completely before slicing.
Here are some ingredient substitutions I’ve tested:
- Oats: Use quick oats or whole oats. If using whole, you’ll need to pulse them. If using quick oats, you can skip the pulsing. I will note, however, the bars hold their shape much better if you pulse the oats first, regardless if you’re using whole or quick oats.
- Nut Butter: Instead of almond butter, try peanut butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter for a naturally nut-free option.
- Applesauce: Homemade or store bought applesauce works. Instead of applesauce, try mashed banana or 1 egg. The bars would no longer be vegan if using an egg.
- Maple Syrup: You can use honey instead of maple syrup, keeping in mind the bars would no longer be vegan.
- Coconut Oil: You can use melted unsalted or salted butter instead. You need a fat that’s solid at room temperature, so do not replace with an oil that is liquid at room temperature.
- Berry Filling: You need 2 cups of fresh or frozen berries. You can use a blend of mixed berries or only blueberries, blackberries, or even chopped cherries. Extra juicy berries such as strawberries or raspberries will yield flimsier bars.
Are These Healthy?
I say this a lot with the lightened-up recipes I publish, but “healthy” is a relative term. In my eyes, these are perfectly healthy dessert bars. They’re made with whole foods like almond butter and fiber-filled oats, plus there’s no white flour or refined sugar. However, they may be too sugary for someone who needs to watch their sugar intake and they’re obviously not ideal for anyone allergic to nuts.
When it comes to labeling recipes as healthy, use the best judgement for YOU.
- I’m unsure of the nutritional information for these, but feel free to calculate it yourself using an online calculator and the exact products/brands you use.
These easy healthy berry streusel bars combine two layers of almond oat streusel and one thick layer of berry filling. These dessert bars are vegan. If using certified gluten free oats, they’re gluten free as well!
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (12g) cornstarch
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (23ml) water
- 2 cups (about 300g) fresh or frozen mixed berries (do not thaw & see note)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon (11g) coconut sugar, brown sugar, or granulated sugar
Crust + Streusel
- 2 and 1/2 cups (200g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats or quick oats
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (255g) almond butter
- 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup (60ml) melted coconut oil
- for topping: 1/2 cup (64g) sliced or chopped almonds and 1 extra Tablespoon oats
- Berry Filling: Whisk the cornstarch and water together until all the cornstarch has dissolved. (I just use a fork to mix– very easy.) Place the cornstarch mixture, berries, maple syrup, and coconut sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture as it cooks. Smash some of the berries against the bottom/sides of the pot as you stir, gently breaking them up. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. After 2 minutes, remove pan from the heat and allow to cool completely. The mixture will thicken as it cools. To speed up the cooling process, feel free to cover and refrigerate it after it slightly cools for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. I recommend making the berry filling in advance so it can cool completely. Berry filling can be cold or room temperature when you assemble the bars– you just don’t want it hot or warm.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
- Make the crust/streusel: Pulse the oats in a food processor or blender until they’re slightly broken up. (For whole oats, about 10 pulses. For quick oats, about 5-6 pulses.) Pour into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon, almond butter, maple syrup, applesauce, and melted coconut oil. Mixture will be thick and wet.
- Using the back of a flat spatula or a spoon, press about 3/4 of the crust/streusel mixture tightly and firmly down into the pan. Make sure it’s flat and very compact, which helps guarantee the bars will hold their shape. Spread cooled berry filling evenly on top.
- For Topping: Mix the sliced almonds into the remaining crust/streusel mixture. Sprinkle all over the top of the berry filling. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of oats evenly on top. (Helps soak up some moisture.)
- Bake for 27-31 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and place baking pan on a cooling rack. Allow bars to cool completely. After about 1 hour cooling at room temperature, you can place the pan in the refrigerator to help speed the cooling up. Lift the cooled bars out using the parchment paper overhang on the sides. Cut into squares.
- Cover and store leftover bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Freezing Instructions: Layer the cooled and cut bars between sheets of parchment in a freezer-friendly bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
- Fruits: You need 2 cups of fresh or frozen berries. I typically use 1 cup of blueberries, 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries, and 1/2 cup of raspberries. You can use a blend of mixed berries or only blueberries, blackberries, or even chopped cherries. Extra juicy berries such as strawberries or raspberries will yield flimsier bars. I haven’t tested this recipe with other fruits, but let me know if you try it.
- Nut Butter: I recommend using creamy almond butter, but you can use crunchy instead if needed. You can also replace with peanut butter (natural or non-natural), cashew butter, or another nut butter of your choice. Sunflower seed butter is a great nut-free alternative.
- Ingredient Questions: I’ve made these bars countless times with all sort of ingredients substitutions. See all successful ingredient substitutions in the blog post above.
- Topping: I mix sliced almonds into the topping, but you can use any chopped nut (or sunflower seeds/pepitas) instead. I don’t recommend skipping this addition because it helps bulk up the topping. If you don’t have any nuts, add 1/4 cup (20g) of whole or quick oats to the topping mixture in step 5. No need to pulse them first and no need for that extra 1 Tablespoon of oats.
Keywords: berry streusel bars, healthy bars, vegan